23 September 2012

Landslides kill 27 people in Sikkim, India

Posted by Dave Petley

The late twist in the tail of the South Asian monsoon continues to cause substantial disruption in Northern India.  Very heavy rainfall affected Sikkim on Friday night, triggering widespread landslides and flash floods.  IBN Live (warning – this site has pop-ups) report that 21 people were killed in the Gangtok area alone.  Most of these appear to have been the result of landslides on the road between  Mangan and Chungthang, whilst a further eight people are missing in North Sikkim.  Those killed on the road appear to have been soldiers from the Border Roads Organisation (military engineers who maintain the highways) and border guards.

Some reports suggest that the death toll may be higher – at least 40 according to this item.  Further flash floods and landslides are forecast over the net few days.

Sikkim was of course affected by a substantial earthquake in September 2011, which caused widespread damage and many landslides.  This rainfall event repeats a pattern that we have observed elsewhere, which is that the first exceptionally heavy rainfall event after a large earthquake in mountainous areas causes very large numbers of very damaging landslides, with a high cost in lives and damage.